Anglia Ruskin wins one of the largest awards of funds for ‘Higher Skills @ Work’ programme

Published: 7 July 2008 at 14:04

Over £10 million secured for degree-level skills training for people in the workplace.

The Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) has awarded Anglia Ruskin University £5.6 million from its Strategic Development Fund over three years to assist in the creation of a dedicated specialist unit to address the need for degree level skills training for people in the workplace.  At the same time that this news was revealed, HEFCE has also confirmed that it had awarded the University funds for 1000 additional student places which takes the total value of the award to more than £10million.

The basis of the proposal is to create a specialist ‘Higher Skills @ Work’ team to identify opportunities, consult and collaborate with employers in assessing and addressing their current provision, create solutions and capitalise on existing good practice.

Speaking about the significance of the award, Professor Michael Thorne, Vice Chancellor of Anglia Ruskin University, said:

“This is one of the largest awards made by HEFCE under this scheme and, we believe, it recognizes our existing strong achievements, the high quality of our offering and our stated commitment to the support of businesses and other organisations in growing their people and their overall effectiveness.”

“This initiative will be highly effective for employees in terms of personal career development; and it will, at the same time, improve the overall performance of the businesses and organisations they represent.”

The programme will work to address the needs of the existing workforce, rather than recruits and it is different from similar initiatives in that the focus is on degree level skills. Benefits to employers include: higher levels of motivation; better employee retention; higher levels of customer service; higher turnover and profitability; and the influx of new ideas and innovation.

Professor David Eastwood, Chief Executive of the Higher Education Funding Council for England, said:

“We are committed to supporting universities in their increasingly successful endeavours to strengthen their links with employers. We will provide at least £105 million over the next three years to expand provision at a number of universities, leading to higher skills in the workforce.”

“We believe this funding will enable the universities to build on their achievements to the considerable benefit of employers and their staff as well as the wider economy and services.”

While benefits to employees include: higher levels of job satisfaction motivation and confidence; enhanced career prospects; and improved recognition.

The programme was created in response to a HEFCE request for proposals in support of the delivery of Higher Skills training to employees, against the backdrop of demographic change which will see declining numbers of skilled young people available for recruitment. Lord Leitch has commented recently that in order to compete globally, there is an urgent requirement to develop improved and higher skills in the existing workforce.

As part of this long term collaboration, management teams will receive the offer of free advice, accreditation of existing provision, rewards for prior learning and experience, advice on and the development of new provision, and the ability to create, support and develop the delivery of higher level skills training.  This initiative builds on significant experience already acquired with organisations such as Specsavers and Barclays.

The new unit will be led by a director and include a team of Skill Development Consultants (SDCs) who will target themselves upon a carefully selected lists of businesses and organisations.  These SDCs will create the initial opening in many cases and will always undertake the initial consultation before building a deeper collaboration that will result in a formal business relationship.

The new team will be recruited immediately and first students under the scheme are likely to enroll for Autumn 2008.